Data from the Direct Marketing Association show a return of 380% invested in email marketing. Why is this still is thing? And what can money marketers do to make the most out of this medium? Ross Sibbald is Executive Head of Striata Marketing Solutions, breaks down the elements of a successful e-marketing strategy.
Clicks-throughs, the holy grail of email marketing, remain seemingly elusive for most. The latest data from the Direct Marketing Association show that fewer people clicked on links in 2016 than in 2015, even though the emails were opened as frequently. The overall click-through rate in 2016 was a humbling 1.6%, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous year.
It’s tempting to look at these low figures, and the decline, as evidence that email marketing is ineffective.
Indeed article after article has been penned in recent years declaring email, and email marketing along with it, dead. After all, social media’s growth seems to suggest that email is losing favour as a means of keeping in touch with friends and interacting with businesses.
Yet an eye-watering 53 trillion and counting emails were sent worldwide in the year to date, according to Internet Live Statistics. This figure completely dwarfs the number of Twitter and Facebook posts, and explains why ROI on email marketing is so high even with low click-through rates. Marketers reported to the DMA getting back £30 in 2016 for every pound spent on email marketing.
So the reports of email’s death, then, are greatly exaggerated.
Low and falling click-through rates are nonetheless cause for concern. They suggest that not enough of what marketers send out is deemed worth clicking on to learn more.
Admittedly, the reasons why recipients would open an email but not click through are complicated. It’s not always in the sender’s control. But it is our responsibility as marketers to ensure that what we do send out has the best chance of a click.
That requires taking a few basic steps to ensuring that email campaigns check all the ‘relevance’ boxes.
The first step is to segment your mailing list. The send-to-all approach guarantees not only poor engagement but also stands a good chance of losing the goodwill of the people who have voluntarily opted into receiving email because they like your business. Spamming hurts your customer, and your business.
The strategy behind a good email marketing campaign has to be based on a strong understanding of what customer need you are responding to. And that requires understanding the people who will be reading the email.
If your email list does not have the data to help you understand who you are speaking to, then you first need to beef it up. You need a campaign to gather all the other relevant data points, lest you take shots in the dark and end up shooting your own foot.
Then you need to customise the content of the mailer based on the segmentation.
Why, if you are a financial advisor, for example, are you sending a pensioner advice on saving up for retirement? It should be no surprise if that pensioner chooses not to click on any links in the email. They are probably more interested making their retirement lump sums or annuities last longer, since, as pensioners, they have limited opportunity to save.
Chances are your business has the marketing materials to speak to every segment in your customer base. But the lack of segmentation and customisation in the emails leads to poor click-through rates.
Finally you also need to evaluate how the campaign went and make adjustments for the next campaign. Each campaign is a learning opportunity. Pore over the data to understand what worked and what didn’t. Then try something else the next time. Refining your approach in this way should lead to tangible financial results and justify the investment in strategy.
By Ross Sibbald is Executive Head of Striata Marketing Solutions, an agency focused on leveraging the power of digital communication to achieve the desired results for clients. Ross is responsible for the customer experience, financial performance, operational efficiency and talent management of the agency.